Former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.), and a former Director, Finance and Accounting at NAF, Air Cdre S.A. Yushau, who are being investigated in connection to the diversion of arms funds, has been transferred from the Abuja headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to its Lagos office.
The pair’s transfer is die to the commencement of a fresh investigation into the alleged diversion of N4.4bn from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency into the accounts of top officers of the Nigerian Air Force.
NIMASA had on August 26, 2013, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the NAF, to provide effective air surveillance and monitoring of the nation’s coastal waters.
According to the MoU, the task of the Air Force was to carry out aerial surveillance, reconnaissance, search and rescue, tactical airlift, enforcement and provide intelligence reports to NIMASA.
The purpose of the MoU was to assist NIMASA in the curbing of piracy, illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism.
Badeh, the Chief of Air Staff at the time, is reported to have signed the MoU on behalf of the NAF, while Patrick Akpobolokemi, former Director-General of NIMASA, signed on behalf of the agency.
To facilitate the MoU, billions of naira was reportedly transferred from the bank account of NIMASA to the Air Force, but the EFCC claims that the money was diverted to private accounts.
A detective at the EFCC, revealed to Punch Newspapers, that: “We brought Badeh and Yushau to Lagos to answer to fresh allegations. The MoU that was signed by Badeh was for NAF aircraft to patrol the creeks to prevent pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering.”
“As part of the agreement, money was transferred to the Air Force in two tranches – N1.4bn and N3bn – but the money was mostly in dollars. But the money was not used for that purpose.”
“Rather, the MoU was a conduit pipe to siphon money from NIMASA to Air Force account and then to companies in which they had interests or their wives were directors or signatories.”
“The money that was transferred from NIMASA to the Air Force was for maintenance of the equipment and the fuelling of the aircraft but the money, which was mostly in dollars, went straight into the accounts of Bureau de Change operators. The money was changed from dollars and then returned to the Air Force men.”
“They then set up dummy oil companies, which made it look as if the companies were rendering services. They made it appear as if the companies were supplying aviation fuel to the NAF, which is not true.”
“Investigations revealed that the companies were opened in readiness for money to be paid into their accounts. We discovered that in these companies, these officers have interest in it or their wives are directors or signatories to the accounts.”
“We believe that the Air Force was giving kickbacks to NIMASA people. Anytime money was transferred, they usually went back to the Air Force to collect their own share. Investigations are ongoing and we will unravel the transactions.”